Domik v Derevnye (Домик в Деревне) commands the Russian dairy market with 34% market share. The brand, whose name literally translates to “little house in the country,” began in 1997 to serve Russia’s large and culturally important dairy market. Today, Domik v Derevnye produces kefir, cottage cheese, milk, butter, yogurt, and, of course, sour cream. It is also highly visible, advertising on TV, magazines, at events, and more.

Sour cream (сметана) is one of Russia’s favorite condiments. Served with pancakes, soup, potatoes, dumplings, salad, bread, cake, and even alongside cottage cheese, sour cream is a universal ingredient in the Russian kitchen. Domik v Derevnye sells it retail with up to 25% milk fat, providing a rich, thick, and super creamy product that’s as “tasty as grandma’s,” according to the company catchphrase. Much of the marketing for the product centers around it being a traditional Russian product, close to tradition and to the earth. Thus, everything is preservative-free, GMO-free, and very high-fat. When Russians go abroad, one of the first things they often report missing are Russia’s vast array of high-fat content dairy products on which Russians are raised.

The brand Domik v Derevnye was launched under the auspices of parent company Wimm Bill Dann, which began operations in 1992 after a small group of entrepreneurs leased a production line at the Lianozovo Dairy plant in Moscow to bottle juice. The group chose “Wimm Bill Dann,” vaguely reminiscent of “Wimbledon,” specifically to associate the brand with Western investment which, after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, many Russians considered novel and more trustworthy. By 1997, however, the infatuation with Western goods waned in favor of products proudly produced in Russia and the company began downplaying the corporate parent name in favor of more traditionally named and marketed daughter companies.

In 2010, American company PepsiCo acquired Wimm Bill Dann in a deal that valued the company at $5.4 billion. Wimm Bill Dann also continues to produce juices (such as J7), discount dairy products (Веселый Молочник, or “Happy Milkman”), as well as baby food under the brand name Агуша (Agusha, a cute name sometimes used to refer to babies that is derived the sound “goo-goo”).

Not only was the landmark purchase Pepsi’s second-largest ever, it was also one of the largest foreign investments in Russia outside of the oil and gas sector. Although Domik v Derevnye now belongs to an American company, it still uses advertising that draws a direct connection between the brand and a romanticized version of wholesome, traditional, Russian country living.

 

Enjoyed in the countryside:

 

The company also runs commercials each year specifically for Maslenitsa, a ancient Slavic holiday related to Mardi Gras that Russians consider to be particularly Russian. The holiday is celebrated, in part, by eating massive amounts of blini, which are often served with sour cream.

 

A how-to video for sour cream icing:

 

 

Katheryn Weaver is a student of rhetoric and history at the University of Texas, Austin. Her primary areas of investigation include revolution and the rhetorical justification of violence against individuals, state, and society. She is currently studying Russian as a Second Language with SRAS's Home and Abroad Scholarship.